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Expect the Unexpected

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"Okay, Jim," Blair called out as he opened the door to the loft, "I got all our favorites from Lotus Garden and three movies." He put two bags on the kitchen counter. "I practically had to arm wrestle someone for 'Die Hard' but I emerged triumphant!"  He looked around. "Jim? Are you here?"

He felt a twinge of unease. The last time Jim went missing when he was supposed to be in the loft, he'd been kidnapped by Oliver.  He took a quick survey, but nothing was out of place.  Just no Jim.  

Just then, his partner walked in. "Hey, Chief," he said, walking up and giving Blair a quick kiss. "I was at Katherine Layton's apartment. Her oven is on the fritz."

"Were you able to fix it?"

"Nah, it's one of those new ones with the electronic controls.  I think it's going to need a new panel. She called a repairman, but with the holidays they're swamped. They can't make it out until at least the 26th."

"That sucks. Hey, isn't she hosting a family dinner tomorrow?"

"Yeah, she's practically in tears." Jim hesitated. "Babe, I know we planned a quiet evening watching movies. Would you mind if she used our oven to get her baking done?"

Blair gave Jim a warm smile. "That's a wonderful idea. We're on call, so it's not like we could do anything hot and heavy anyway," he said with a smirk. "What does she need to get done?"

"Not sure.  Pies, for sure. Maybe some other desserts."

"Well, why don't you go make the offer? I'm going to take a quick shower now, since she'll probably be coming in and out all night." Blair climbed the stairs to pick up some clothes.

When he emerged from the bathroom, their neighbor was already in the kitchen with Jim. There were four pies sitting on the counter and he noticed Jim had already turned on their oven.  She turned toward him, her eyes still a little red.  "Oh my god, thank you so much for doing this!" She exclaimed, giving him a big hug.

A little startled, Blair answered, "We're glad to help. Jim probably told you we're on call tonight, so we can keep an eye on the pies if you have other things to do."

"Oh, that would be wonderful.  They all bake at the same temperature, but different lengths of time.  I can write everything down." Blair handed her a pad and pencil, nodding as she explained about the pies.  "I'm making Parker House dinner rolls from scratch. They take a while but should be ready after the pies are done. I was going to make some cookies, and maybe some brownies, but I think I'll put that off. Otherwise, I'd probably be cooking 'til midnight and that would just be too rude after you've been so kind. Oh, and you can call me Kat."

Jim suppressed a smile as she rattled on. Blair just continued to nod, until he realized she'd taken a breath. "Okay, Kat. Will you need the oven tomorrow?"

She smiled. "No, thanks.  I was going to make turkey, but when the oven went out, I made a few calls.  My sister's bringing a Honey Baked Ham and my cousin is making his famous mac and cheese.  We'll cook everything else on the stove.  Fortunately, it's gas so we can light the burners with matches." She looked down at her watch. "I guess I'd better get those rolls started.  I honestly can't thank you enough."

Jim opened the oven door, slipping the pies in, then set the timer. "We also have a decent sized toaster oven," he said, pointing it out. "You're welcome to borrow it if you need to warm anything up." She nodded, starting to tear up again. He unplugged it and carried it across the hall.

Blair was unpacking the Chinese food when he returned.  Jim opened the refrigerator and pulled out two beers, handing one to Blair. "Well, you certainly earned your place on Santa's Nice List tonight," Blair said as he twisted the cap off his bottle. 

Jim clinked his bottle against Blair's, then took a long swallow. So," he said as he got out plates and utensils, "what movies did you get?"

They ate dinner, cleaned up, and had all four pies baked and cooled with only a couple of interruptions to "Die Hard".  They carried the pies to Kat's place, then returned with two trays of dinner rolls ready to be baked.  They took a break from watching "Trading Places" to bring the finished rolls to her apartment. 

She opened the door, looking much less frazzled than a few hours before. "Oh, you didn't have to do that. I was just getting ready to come over."

"It's no problem," Jim said as he looked around. "Your place looks great."

She blushed a little. "Thank you. This will be our first family get-together in a while, so I wanted everything to be perfect." She took the rolls and put them on her counter.  "You know, I just had the kitchen redone this past summer. That oven is brand new." She shook her head. "Anyway, with you watching the pies, I was able to get some cookies baked in your toaster oven." She offered them a Tupperware container. "I hope you like snickerdoodles."

"They're our favorites," Blair answered, taking the container. "They smell wonderful, thanks."

"Oh, and I don't know if you're working tomorrow, but dinner will be at 3. Please come over if you're free, so my family can meet the heroes who saved Christmas."


They were still on call for a few hours, so Jim checked in while Blair made coffee. They brought their cups and the snickerdoodles to the coffee table and switched to "A Christmas Story", settling in for a comfortable end to an eventful Christmas Eve.